Thursday, October 9, 2008

Alaska Supreme Court Says No

The Alaska Supreme Court said no to the appeal of the Republican legislators who sought to halt the investigation into Troopergate. The court said in a brief order issued today:
IT IS ORDERED: The order of the superior court issued on October 2, 2008 granting the Motion to Dismiss is AFFIRMED. An opinion will follow.

Entered at the direction of the full court.
It should be interesting to see the full opinion when it is issued. But for now it means that the Legislative Council may proceed to decide whether to release its investigative report tomorrow.

The court's decision should not have been a surprise, but it was good to hear nonetheless. Some of the questions the judges asked during oral argument yesterday suggested that they were not viewing the appeal favorably. A newspaper reported them as follows:

Clarkson [local counsel for the legislators], who was up first, didn't speak long before the justices began firing questions at him.

Justice Daniel Winfree asked how Clarkson figured his clients had any standing to sue based on the notion an unconstitutional investigation violates the individual rights of others, chiefly Palin's.

Because this is a case of "public significance," Clarkson replied.

"Is this one of public significance or just one of public interest?" Winfree shot back.

"It's both," Clarkson said.

Later, Justice Robert Eastaugh asked, "What are we to make of the fact" that a bipartisan panel voted unanimously to conduct the investigation?

Clarkson said the investigation has lost focus, that lawmakers exceeded their authority in launching it, and that it should be delayed until they can do a proper investigation for a constitutionally valid purpose -- making or changing laws.

That's just what the Legislature is doing, argued Peter Maassen, an attorney for Branchflower and the legislative panel overseeing his investigation.

Anchorage Daily News, October 8, 2008.


McCain campaign releases Palin's own report clearing herself of wrongdoing. AP Press.
"McCain spokesman Taylor Griffin, who distributed the campaign's report, said it was written by the McCain-Palin campaign staff and based on public filings and Todd Palin's affidavit." Chicago Tribune.
So I guess this is was not even the report that was supposed to be issued by the state Personnel Board, which is controlled by Palin. Sounds more like a press release.

The New York Times has a new story giving the details of Troopergate, "Palins Repeatedly Pressed Case Against Trooper."

The Guardian has a new Palin bio, "The chameleon - Who is the real Sarah Palin?"

and Fluffy says she really likes this one, "Cut, Kill, Dig, Drill" by Jonathan Raban in the London Review of Books. No one skewers people like the Brits.

For an excellent roundup on Troopergate, see this VIDEO news story by a reporter from the Anchorage Daily News that features film of conflicting statements made by Palin and staff about Troopergate. It includes the audio recording of the telephone conversation that showed that Frank Bailey (a Palin loyalist and Deputy Commissioner) had, in fact, not only discussed Wooten with someone at the state troopers' office but specifically said that Wooten was a problem that the Palins were concerned about.


+clumber said...

Klady, I don't fully understand the charges being leveled here, or what the results of a finding one way or another might be.... is it gubernatorial impeachment, is it Todd getting his hand slapped, is it a federal, state or local penalty? What's likely to happen? Can we count on anybody caring one way or another about this decision? Seems to me that if they don't want to bring up Todd's AIP affiliation, that this is gonna be a non-starter for most of "the base" too.

klady said...

It is an ethics inquiry conducted by the Alaska legislature (both the Legislative Council and Judiciary Committee are involved, I believe, but in one coordinated investigation). The "worst" that can happen is that the legislature votes to censure Sarah Palin for her conduct with regard to firing Monegan.

If any attention gets paid to it nationally, it is not likely to count for much because no matter what ethical boundaries Sarah or Todd may have crossed, Sarah had the right as governor to remove Monegan from his position as Public Safety Commissioner for the state (something like head law enforcement official, I believe). Department heads are at-will employees so can be removed for any reason or no reason. Back in August when people outside Alaska were just getting to know Palin, the whole Troopergate "scandal" was deemed significant because of the allegations that she treated the governorship as kind of a family business and acted inappropriately by going to a top state official, such as Monegan, to deal with a local trooper, Wooten, because of family concerns.

What I have found interesting and disturbing about the whole thing was not the conduct involved at the time the events occurred but rather the whole bizarre coverup that occurred once the McCain campaign waltzed into town and took over. Whereas before the VP nomination, it seemed clear that Palin really did intend to cooperate in the investigation (well, as much as any official be investigated would) and that she had every reason to think that even if the legislature found that some of her or Todd's conduct was inappropriate, that most people in Alaska would be sympathetic towards her and her family and, in any event, the whole thing likelly would blow over quickly.

What the McCain operatives and this Legal Liberty Institute group did was not only overkill, it was pretty bizarre. Can you imagine even those slimy Clintons trying to get away with flat out refusing to answer any questions or defy subpoenas on the grounds that Congress was too political and couldn't be trusted to be fair or objective? Both the Clintons and Bush have certainly done all sorts of fancy dances with executive branch privilege, etc., but these have been based on some semblance of legal reasoning and use of existing law. But to block a legislative inquiry as being too broad and too political by seeking a court injunction?

As far as I'm concerned, this is just more evidence of the insane way the McCain campaign is being run and a portent of how a McCain-Palin administration might deal with any hint of criticism (imagine folks worse than W in that regard).

And aside from the national perspective, all this is terribly important for folks in Alaska. The McCain operatives have blown apart Alaskan politics and government in ways that will be felt a long time from now, with or without Sarah Palin. I think it bears watching what they have done and may yet still do there.

klady said...

P.S. And what a fracking waste of time getting the Alaska Supreme Court involved, let alone the trial court.